Sunday, 29 November 2015

On the road to bliss - The Koshas Part 2

Yogis think of the body as being composed of 5 layers or sheaths, arranged one inside the other like the layers of an onion. The yogic path to self-realisation involves moving in through the layers to reach the innermost layer, bliss, the part of us that is divine.

The second layer is the energetic layer, pranamaya kosha. This layer is associated with the flow of prana which is enhanced by the asanas and breathing practices. The layers, are not completely separate. If, for instance you are holding tension in your body or the mind is stressed, you may find that your breathing is restricted and the flow of prana is restricted. On the other hand, if you bring your attention to your breath, allowing the breath to naturally lengthen and deepen, then this will help release tension in the body and stress in your mind.

To illustrate this layer, I have chosen Ujjayi Breathing, also known as Conquorer's Breath because 'on the road' to bliss we must 'conquer' this layer.

If you have never practiced Ujjayi Breathing, start by breathing out through your mouth with a 'ha'. Imagine that you are trying to 'fog' a mirror held just in front of your mouth. Notice how the back of your throat feels as you do this. You should notice a slight tightening at the back of your throat. 

Now, with your mouth closed, imagine 'fogging' up a mirror placed at the back of your throat with the inhale. Again you should notice a slight tightening of your throat and hear a soft sound as the breath passes over the throat. 

Ujjayi pranayama involves this slight tightening of the throat both on the inhale and the exhale. Ujjayi breath is practiced with the mouth closed. The sound made by the air passing over the throat is often likened to the sound of the waves which is why Ujjayi is sometimes also called 'Ocean Breath' or some people say it is like a baby snoring. Because the the sound of the breath focuses the mind, the breath practice is very calming. It also slows the breath down. Yogis believe that we have a certain number of breaths before we die. If we slow the breath down therefore, we will live longer. If you practice Ujjayi Breathing throughout your asana practice, it will immediately become obvious if you are going too far into a pose because the breath will become strained more easily than with the normal breath.

See you on the next step on the 'road to bliss'.

Janet x

If you missed part 1, the link is below-

On my YouTube Channel I also have a yoga video on Pranamaya Kosha-

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